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Shaka McGlotten

Residency Sites: Plainfield, VT

I am a young scholar and artist with one foot in the academy and one foot hovering over the simultaneously open and dense space that can broadly be called aesthetics (a space whose density and largesse encompasses poetics, performance, and old school stuff like drawing). For the last six or so years I’ve called the work I do “Queer Science Fictions,” or QSF for short. QSF uses a variety of strategies (personal, surreal, and scholarly) to think about and make artifacts related to race, desire, and technology. On the broadest level, QSF thinks about the ways techno science impacts and is impacted by queers and people of color. In my dissertation work at the University of Texas at Austin, for example, I tell stories about chat rooms, addiction, race, publics, fantasies, and violence to think about how desire, difference, and death shape one another in both abstract and everyday ways. I ground these stories in recent local histories that track the disappearance of public spaces, the circulation of sex as a public problem, the effects of HIV/AIDS on gay men, and the increased use of virtual space as means to make contacts and have encounters.

My dissertation project, like most of the work that makes up QSF, is interested in liminal spaces and bodies and things, in the bleed between real and virtual life, between public and private, between hybrids and perverts, between desire and death, and so on. If this brief biographical sketch regarding my interests seems unclear, let me be more to the point: I am well-trained in “strong theories” that critique racism, sexism, homophobia, imperialism and other technologies of power and normatively which render forms of difference as problems requiring management, commodities to be branded, or pathologies demanding treatment. I therefore welcome working with students who are interested in learning more about the theories and everyday politics of race, gender, sexuality, and globalization.

At the same time I continue to work from and with these strong theories, I have also begun to open myself up to the possibilities represented by “weak theories,” the speculative and adventurous strategies whose routes and conclusions are rarely predetermined and often unpredictable. Opening myself up to weak theories means that I have increasingly made space for my heart, intuition, and empathy in all the work that I do. However, I rarely, if ever, know where these things will lead me; I wander and sometimes get lost. My commitment to “weak theories” thus means that I am also very interested in working with students with backgrounds in creative writing, art making, and performance (or those who are interested in such practices) who are looking to deepen creative practices with scholarship or who are looking for ways to make their academic work more creative.

Whether working in traditional or creative academic contexts, I believe that my responsibility as a teacher is not to spoon- or force-feed, but to facilitate and encourage the fruitful exchanges of ideas and the production of work so that I and the students with whom I work can grow more fully into ourselves. Currently, I’m reading 1970s science fiction and Shakespeare. I spend a lot of time these days thinking about longing, loss, immanence, intelligent design, and infinite possibilities. I’m also working on professionalizing myself within the academy (student loans don’t pay themselves). When not working or daydreaming, I’m doing yoga and swimming.

Educational Background:

PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin; MA in Social Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin; BA in Studio Art, Grinnell College.